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This extremely well researched book collects all of the available documentary evidence regarding Shakespeare and his associates into one compact life. As a biography it does not give a clear driving narration of the poet's life, but rather tries to tell his story through the evidence that is left to us. He does a great job debunking myths and citing sources. As a "story" of Shakespeare's life, this is not the first volume I would turn to, but rather would look at a biography in one of the "colle...
Outstanding book. Cites an extraordinary number of biographies and critical essays, infers and interprets conservatively from (mostly) primary sources, and, with strict discipline in service of his laser-thin purpose, offers essentially no literary criticism. He leaves many questions unanswered, and justly so. The facsimiles are interesting, though sometimes oddly placed on the page, i.e. distant from relevant passage in main text. The humor is dry and not at all distracting.
There are very few established facts about Shakespeare's life. Because of that most biographers of Shakespeare are forced to speculate. This 'documentary life' tries to avoid the pitfalls of speculation, and builds a life around what few fact we have about the man and the times. It is, perhaps, the best source book for what we do know about the greatest poet and playwright of the English language.
Until I read "Will in the World," I had long believed this to be the best of all Shakespearian biographies, and it still has worlds to offer. Just don't limit yourself to it as a single source!
I think it is still the best Shakespeare bio out there.